Green salads are those that are lettuce based and usually have garnishes and a dressing. The garnishes can be anything from other vegetables (e.g., shredded carrots), fresh fruit (e.g., strawberries), dried fruit (e.g., dried cranberries), pieces of meat (e.g., sliced steak or smoked duck breast), cheese (e.g., crumbled Roquefort or cubed Gruyere), nuts (e.g., toasted almonds) or croutons.
Among the green salad category, salads can be considered either tossed or composed. When making a tossed salad, as the name implies, all of the ingredients get tossed together. On the other hand, composed salads are neatly arranged on a platter where all of the garnishes are clearly seen. The most common composed salads are Niçoise salad, chef salad or Cobb salad. To do something a little different, start with an arugula salad, top with steamed or grilled asparagus, shaved parmesan cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. Add a poached egg on top to really make it special.
Bound salads are those comprised mostly of a protein or starch, like chicken salad or pasta salad. These salads are held together with a mayonnaise or vinaigrette-based dressing. Try crumbling some crispy bacon into a classic potato salad or adding sliced chorizo to a spicy pasta salad.
Vegetable salads are made from bite-sized raw or cooked vegetables in a dressing or marinade. Combine grilled vegetables with any leftover bits of charcuterie for tons of flavor.
Fruit salads are a colorful blend of many types of fruit. A dressing isn’t necessary, but you can use a sweet dressing made from fruit juice or a yogurt-based dressing, if you like. Or add a splash of liqueur, like triple sec, for an adult treat.
When making salads at home, don’t bother buying bottled dressing. Making your own vinaigrette is simple. Start with 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a bowl. You can choose to use a basic red or white wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, sherry vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or balsamic vinegar. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and whisk together. Slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons of oil, whisking continuously. The safest choice is to pick a flavorless oil, like vegetable or canola oil. The stronger the flavor of the oil, the more it will overpower the flavor of the vinegar. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste your vinaigrette before serving. To get a better idea of how it tastes, taste it on a piece of lettuce instead of using your finger or a spoon. Drizzle it over your salad and you have a quick and healthy dish.